In October of 2006, in Round Top, Texas, the Lord started asking me to pick up garbage. I remember it very clearly. It was the first afternoon at a week long spiritual retreat which would become a significant mile marker in my spiritual life. The conference center was beautiful! The gardens were breath-taking and I was spending that first afternoon just talking with the Lord. A small piece of white paper had been carelessly discarded. The Lord told me to "pick it up". Now you might think that it wasn't the Lord but merely common sense but I heard Him. I bent down to pick up the paper and it blew away. I was tempted to just let it blow but the Lord was persistent and reluctantly I obeyed. Since then, I have been asked to pick up garbage many times. I even made a new friend (that very week) that also gets asked to pick up garbage. Go figure. Sometimes it's just a piece or two that the Lord calls to my attention and sometimes He gets serious with me and puts me to work. I'm not sure what the reason is. My friend believes that it's a tool to chip away at our pride. I have plenty of pride but I have to wonder if it is more of a lesson in obedience for me. Far more often than I would like to admit, the Lord's tender voice to "pick that up" is met with "Oh, Lord, I don't want to...the next trash can is so far away...that's gross...". A myriad of excuses fall from my lips, but He's persistent. I'm reminded of the words that I say to my children, "if you don't obey right away, you're not obeying at all". I hate that, but it's true.
So, this week, I returned to work after a wonderful, fun-filled holiday. I was having some trouble settling in and knowing which ministries needed to have the highest priority. The Lord has given me a heart for the lost and everywhere I look, people are lost! How do I reach out to them? What should this ministry look like? What do I do with that one? As I write this, I see my own lack of trust in the Lord and that tendency again to lean on my own understanding. I wanted to see the whole path, didn't I, Lord? Over holidays, the Lord had been really impressing the words of Jude 23 on my heart..."Strive to save others, snatching them out of the fire..." Oh Lord, may I be able to do that! Once again, the Lord is teaching me while I write. He IS ABLE to keep me from stumbling! Even with such a calling as that! Anyways, back to my story... I had asked the Lord, "show me how... show me what to do... how do I snatch them for You, Lord?" The question hung unanswered in the air throughout my quiet time. I threw on my runners and headed out the door. The sun was rising and the Lord was declaring His glory! It was a remarkable time of praise to the Lord for Who He is and what He's done! Then I saw it. A bag. "Oh, no, Lord. Not a bag." For when the Lord sends a bag, I know that there will be a bunch of garbage around the corner and He's providing all that I need to gather it. (Lord, the lessons in garbage are still coming! You will always provide all that I need to gather it - praise God!) Sure enough, I was suddenly in a sea of garbage! Everywhere I looked there was something to be picked up. I went left, then right, forward, then back. I felt almost frantic as I grabbed at everything and didn't seem to be making a dent in the collection of refuse. My cry to the Lord was probably audible, "Lord, I can't get it all! I'm grabbing right and left and I'm supposed to be running." Praise God, His reply was too! "I don't ask you to. Just SNATCH the ones I place along your path!"
I knew without a doubt that we weren't just talking about garbage anymore. We were talking about those people around me who were lost and seemingly discarded by life. I'm running in the race of life and I'm called to run in such a way as to get the prize. I'm to press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. I'm to fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of my faith. I'm to run with perseverance and by Christ's call and in His strength, I'm to snatch others out of the fire that have fallen along the path He takes me. And He will supply everything I need to do this - all the while keeping my feet from falling.
Will you join me?